Monday, June 23, 2014

The Writing Game: Surviving Those 'Off Days'

     It was a tough day for my son on the ball field.
     Playing right field, he couldn't get a handle on a couple of line-drive singles. He missed the cut-off man on another. Hitting-wise, the shortstop threw him out on two infield grounders. His coach took him out of the game after four innings.
     As we drove home, he was full of excuses.
     "It was hot."
     "The ball was hit too hard."
     "The sun was in my eyes."
     "I was bad, wasn't I?" he asked.
     His head wasn't in the game. I could tell by his slouchy posture, how he kicked at the grass, and watched a bird fly overhead while his teammates focused on the guy at the plate. I didn't say that, though. Instead I said, "Everyone has their 'off' days."
     "Maybe I shouldn't play next year."
     I shrugged. "That's your choice," I said.
     At the high school level, he'd have to make a choice between playing baseball or joining the track team since they share the same season. He threw discus in track and really enjoyed it. But at the time, he was in junior high baseball. And he was discouraged.
     "Everyone's better than me," he said. He slumped down in the seat, pulling the cap over his eyes. "But I love baseball," he mumbled.
      I looked at him, and something dawned on me. He sounded He sounded like me on the days when I wished that I could get an acceptance before I get another rejection. That my computer wasn't so slow. That I could write as lyrical and fresh as that shiny new author at Big Publishing House. Some days I complained more than I composed. It's all just so hard, I thought. Why bother?
     On days like that, I just want to wallow in self-pity. And nothing and nobody is going to stop me, by golly. But I love writing, so I'll be back at the computer the next morning if I'm not there the night before. I can't imagine a time when I won't be writing. It's just not possible. It's who I am.
     So go ahead and allow yourself an 'off' day if you feel one coming on. Embrace it. Wallow with chocolate, Ben & Jerry's, or whatever your vice.
     Then dust yourself off and get back in the game.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

First Days of Summer Flash Sale of Bingo Summer

Photo credit: Crosby's
 since it's officially SUMMER!! 

Starting today and through Sunday, I'm celebrating with a 99 cent sale of all
 e-book versions of BINGO SUMMER.

For those of you who've already read my debut middle-grade, the main character, Summer Haas, also celebrates her birthday on June 21st. If we could all share cake, that would be perfect, but since you're spread far and wide, a sale will have to do!

P.S. -  See that photo? It's Summer's birthday cake, which her mom whips up in Chapter 1! Molasses ginger cake with maple buttercream frosting - YUM!


     Also be sure to enter my Goodreads Giveaway if you haven't already. It's still happening until June 30th. You could win ONE of TEN FREE paperback versions of the novel, too!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Within the Pages: Caught Between Two Curses

It's my pleasure to have author Margo L. Dill visiting the blog today, talking about her new young adult paranormal romance, CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO CURSES. 

First, a summary of the book:

 Seventeen-year-old Julie Nigelson is cursed. So is her entire family. And it’s not just any-old-regular curse, either—it’s strangely connected to the famous “Curse of the Billy Goat” on the Chicago Cubs.
Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time.

Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family’s future, and her own love life—and time is running out!
Published 2014 by Rocking Horse Publishing

Now, for a little Q & A time between Margo and Here's the Story:

Here's the Story: So, let's start with the initial inspiration for the story. Where did the idea come from? 

Margo L DillTwo news stories in 2003 finally inspired me to explore a question I had always wondered: why do some people survive accidents or tragedies and others don’t? Are the survivors supposed to DO SOMETHING before they die? The two news stories were when Steve Bartman interfered with a foul ball at a Chicago Cubs playoff game, and everyone blamed him for the Cubs not making it in the World Series. I thought, It’s not Steve Bartman’s fault (of course); The Curse of the Billy Goat strikes again. The second story was about a little girl who had survived a car crash where her parents died. She was actually in the car for a few days before the police found her, and she ate snacks from her diaper bag. So I created 17-year-old Julie whose parents both died under mysterious circumstances in a fire when she was three. When the novel opens, Julie thinks her only problem is that her boyfriend wants to have sex, when she’s not ready. But it turns out she seems to be the one in her family destined to break two curses that are killing her loved ones.

HTS: Who was your favorite character to write? Was there a character you most identified with? 

MLD: My favorite character to write was GRANDMA! She is eccentric and says funny/crazy stuff, and I could really stretch my imagination whenever she was in a scene. I mostly identify with Julie, which I think is common for so many writers--right? A little bit of us is in our main characters. I struggled with some of the same issues as Julie when I was growing up, although not in the same way. And the chemistry class scene--straight from my senior year of chemistry. Egads--that's when I knew I was not cut out for any sort of career in science. 

HTS: What was the most challenging aspect of the book to write? 

MLD: The book is a blend of realistic, paranormal, romantic, and historical fiction. Not letting the curses plotline take over the characters. I wanted Julie to have a huge problem to solve, but within her world as a teenager. So that meant she still had teenage stuff--friends, school, boyfriend, dances--to deal with. So, I would be writing the curse stuff and think--WOW! Julie hasn't even talked to any friends for two days. She hasn't sent a text. Then I had to go back and rewrite. 

HTS: What kind of research did you do for this novel? 

MLD: I researched the Cubs curse and some general information about curses, but the rest came straight from my brain or knowledge about baseball, teens, and Chicago. I used to live in Champaign, IL, and so I went to Chicago a lot. 

HTS: Speaking of magic, do you have any objects on your desk that inspire your work?

MLD: I don't even have a desk! My desk is either the kitchen table or an end table in the living room. When my husband got transferred to St. Louis (from IL), we decided to rent for a while and our house is small! But that's okay. 

HTS: What's your go-to snack food/drink while you write?

MLD: Now, food and drink--well, during the day, coffee and I love Werther's Originals hard candy or some fruit like strawberries or blueberries. At night--wine or hot tea (depending on the day!) and popcorn. LOVE POPCORN! 

HTS: Can you give us a hint about what you're working on now? 

MLD: Sure, I have two projects--one should be going out into the big, wide world soon (trying to query agents) and is a middle-grade mystery book about a super sleuth who has trouble solving his own mystery when his trophy is stolen. I also have a YA in beginning stages which is about a community shooting and how it affects two teens whose fathers were involved in the shooting. 

HTS: From one Cubs fan to another, I'm tired of the 'curse' being an excuse for perpetually lousy seasons. What's your prediction for when the Cubs might finally win the Series? 

MLD: I don't know. I don't think it will be this season--but maybe there's a real-life Julie in the world somewhere who can work on breaking the curse. 

HTS: The team definitely needs some good magic for once. Thank you for stopping by, Margo! And readers, if you'd like to follow Margo and CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO CURSES, visit her other hangouts!

A few links:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Gratitude in the Digital Publishing Age

     The last month has been filled with enough anxiety to fill the entire span of my writing career. And by 'career', I'm reaching all the way back to eighth grade, folks. That's when I first went public with my stories, beyond the gushing remarks of family and teachers.
     What created the monster migraine has been the process of self-publishing. Admittedly, I'm a big baby when it comes to learning new technology. I don't have patience for  HTML, formatting, or even downloading pictures from my camera onto iPhoto. Give me a keyboard and a blank document, show me the cut, paste, and delete  commands, and I'm good to go. All right, I'm exaggerating in a big way here. But, really? I've never been known for my techno-savviness.
     This mini whine leads to a sense of gratitude. I'm immensely thankful for the people who helped me get my debut novel into decipherable shape and out into the world. With their patience and professionalism, they made the experience a not-too-terrible one. Looking back, with clean, pretty digital and print copies uploaded and selling, I might even call it a pleasant one.
     So thank you, Heather at McCorkle Creations, for your design expertise on my cover and promo materials, and Rae at Metamorphosis Books for your endless patience, talent, and advice. You ladies are the BEST!

(This post was inspired by the Celebrate the Small Things Blog Hop, hosted by Scribblings of an Aspiring Writer)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When Writing Journeys Begin

I'm decompressing after a morning of interacting with junior high students during their career fair. I love talking to kids about writing because not only are they the audience I write for (and don't most writers like connecting directly with readers?), but also because it brings me back to the very age when I started writing. And coincidentally, when I came home a while ago, and started browsing the Internet while I ate lunch, I read a very timely post at Smack Dab in the Middle about the journey of becoming a writer. It really started for me in junior high, too, after I got positive feedback from my literature teacher on a writing assignment. How many writers were born because of the encouragement and support they got from a teacher? Many, I'm sure.

A few more mentionables:

A HUGE thanks to Shelley Sly for featuring me on her blog, Stories in the Ordinary, this morning. Shelley's own middle-grade novel, WISHING FOR WASHINGTON, releases on June 18.

There's a FANTASTIC giveaway opportunity happening at Adventures in YA Publishing. The prize is a mystery box from Martina's trip to the BEA conference (full of books & fun swag, maybe?). Enter and hopefully you'll find out!

Also, my giveaway over at Goodreads is going strong. Check it out and add your name to win ONE of TEN paperback copies of BINGO SUMMER!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Bingo Summer by Dawn Malone

Bingo Summer

by Dawn Malone

Giveaway ends June 30, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
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